What caught my eye at Tuesday's practice: Sept. 4


KU tight ends Trent Smiley (85) and Jimmay Mundine (at right, without helmet) attempt to cool down between drills at Tuesday's practice.

KU tight ends Trent Smiley (85) and Jimmay Mundine (at right, without helmet) attempt to cool down between drills at Tuesday's practice. by Matt Tait

It was another hot one on the practice fields at Kansas University on Tuesday, as the Jayhawks went through drills under the scorching sun with temperatures that soared above the 100-degree mark on the field.

During his weekly radio show on Monday night, KU coach Charlie Weis talked the difficulty adjusting the changing temperatures at this time of the year. For instance, even though it was in the upper-90s in Lawrence today, gametime temps for Week 2 against Rice are expected to be in the mid-70s.

Obviously, that will have an equal impact on both teams and really should not play much of a factor. But I thought it was interesting to note and I also thought it was interesting that Weis took note, himself, of what this week’s temperatures down in Texas would be. Always looking for an edge.

Speaking of the edge, the tight ends, who had a solid showing last Saturday in KU’s 31-17 victory against South Dakota State spent quite a bit of time working on sealing the edge during early drills at practice today.

We know Mike Ragone can get the job done, but I continue to be impressed by the effort put forth by Jimmay Mundine, a guy who, during his first couple of years in town, had been known to lack a little bit of work ethic and also be more of a pass-catcher than a blocker. Not any longer. It looks like Mundine has figured out quickly that the way to get onto the field at his position is to be a mean blocker. He looks good out there and will only continue to get better.

KU tight end Jimmay Mundine works on a blocking technique while Tight Ends coach Jeff Blasko looks on.

KU tight end Jimmay Mundine works on a blocking technique while Tight Ends coach Jeff Blasko looks on. by Matt Tait

One other thing that caught my eye with Mundine was how comfortable he was tutoring the other tight ends. At a position that’s four-deep, it would be really easy for Mundine to worry about getting his and perhaps even enjoy the fact that others were taking a bad step here or there. But it doesn’t look like it works that way with this group and that attitude, if consistent, should benefit the entire team.

Here’s a look at a couple of other things that caught my eye at Tuesday’s practice:

• Tuesday marked the first time I can remember where strength and conditioning director Scott Holsopple donned something other than sweats and a hooded sweatshirt. Not to worry, though. Even though the temperature reached triple-digits, Holsopple still wore the sweats and added a long sleeve jacket to the ensemble. I don’t know how he does it.

• There was a No. 97 on the field today, but, no, it was not defensive lineman Ty McKinney. McKinney is still expected to arrive on campus Friday — and Weis was not interested in talking about it during Tuesday’s news conference — but he was not here today. That 97 was Darius Willis, a former linebacker who recently began working with the defensive line. But Willis, who wore No. 2, has not made a jersey change, that’s just routine procedure for the scout team, which often will wear the numbers of the upcoming opponents to get the Jayhawks even more prepared. In this case, Willis was playing Rice defensive end, Jared Williams, whom Weis said, earlier in the day, was the Owls’ leader on the defensive line.

Kickers Nick Prolago (16) and Austin Barone (99) may get an extended look with the kickoff team this week in practice.

Kickers Nick Prolago (16) and Austin Barone (99) may get an extended look with the kickoff team this week in practice. by Matt Tait

• One other interesting note from today's press conference: Weis said he and his staff would give kickers Nick Prolago (16) and Austin Barone (99) a serious look on the kickoff team this week in practice. The idea comes in part because Weis was displeased with the kickoff team in last week's opener and part because he would like to give place kicker and punter Ron Doherty a little less of a load. We'll see how it works out.

• Tuesday marked the first time I can remember where linebacker Anthony McDonald stayed out there the entire time we were allowed to watch. No exercise bike for the Notre Dame transfer today, which could be a sign that he is progressing nicely. The only guy on the bike today was fullback Nick Sizemore, who figures be out for a while longer with a broken foot.

• Finally, the Coach Weis song of the day was “No Surrender” by Bruce Springsteen.


Jeff Coffman 5 years ago

Here I thought we would have to wait until the spring for this...awesome...thanks for the football update.

BayPark 5 years ago

Thanks, Matt! I appreciate your work and the details you provide. No Surrender is the perfect song for the uphill climb.

Like soldiers on the winter's night/ With a vow to defend/ No retreat, baby, no surrender

Lisa Beran 5 years ago

Question for you, Matt: Why was Maura always by the exercise bike during the game Saturday? He was never more than 8 feet away, and was usually within 2, even when no other teammates were anywhere close. Thanks for your great coverage!

gchawk 5 years ago

Any time line when Sizemore might be able to practice? I realize you stated It would be "a while longer", but can you be any more specific? Thanks

Matt Tait 5 years ago

I keep forgetting to ask, but I'll get to it. Sorry. Bear with me...

texashawk10 5 years ago

I assume Rice's players practice outdoors if their coaches are smart which means they get the privilege of practicing in temperatures in the mid 90's with a heat index in the 105 range along with the legendary Houston humidity. Rice's players conditioning is not going to be an issue at any point this season if they practice outdoors.

Are those pictures from your phone Matt or did someone get you a real camera for practice?

KGphoto 5 years ago

I spend some time running in San Antonio these days, and heat is certainly not the only factor in conditioning. If you are hydrated properly, you can beat the heat to an extent. I can run as far in Texas, as I can in Kansas, as I can in Colorado (altitude).

Heart, not heat, is the issue.

Matt Tait 5 years ago

Still from the iPhone... Just a good lighting day, I guess!

Pamela Shanks 5 years ago

I am heading to the Illinois game and am wondering if the team will come and sing the alma mater with fans after away games? I bet with Chicago so close there will be quite a KU presence.

VaJay 5 years ago

Having the scout team wear the appropriate jersey number of the opposing team seems to be a great indicator of the attention to detail everything gets with this coaching staff. I assume this wasn't a habit of the former regime??

Matt Tait 5 years ago

Actually, I think it was... It seems pretty common, but I like it no matter what.

Randy Bombardier 5 years ago

Yeah, I imagine if McDonald had been out there at Mike they wouldn't have had that 99 yd run, although I still think the safety was the one with the most glaring mistake.

JayHawk_from_SWKS 5 years ago

Hi Matt. Are those NFL scouts behind Prolago and Barone in the picture above? Do you know which team they are from?

Bville Hawk 5 years ago

Diamondbacks and the Supersonics

KGphoto 5 years ago

Lol, but incorrect. It was the Minneapolis Lakers and the Brooklyn Dodgers. Just ask John Wooden or Don Hudson.

Matt Tait 5 years ago

Yes and yes. It's pretty cool to see them out there several times a week...

Matt Tait 5 years ago

I think there were a couple of kickers — along with several other potential walk-ons — who gave it a shot during the preseason and then did not come back. Don't know any details. Maybe they just figured out it wasn't for them.

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